Thursday, August 2, 2018

Should States Regulate the Use of "Granny Cams" in Care Facilities?

In McKnight's Long-Term Care News, guest columnist Tim Ford, a New Jersey attorney, tackles the challenging issues surrounding the use of so-called "Granny Cams" in care facilities.  Where families are worried about the quality of care, they may attempt to install a hidden camera in the loved one's room.  Or, a facility might want to use such cameras to monitor its own employees.  Should states regulate such use?  Should states restrict or even prevent use? 

First, a little background.  Texas was the first state to directly address the issue of granny cams.  In 2001 it enacted a statute providing that a nursing home or related institution "shall permit a resident or the resident's guardian . . . to monitor the room of the resident through the use of electronic monitoring devices."  Notice of surveillance was required to be posted at the entrance to the facility and the resident's room. The state later added regulatory limitations on use of such cameras, and the authorizing statutes were also amended in 2015.

Tim Ford's column updates the history and points to the need for further legislative clarity: 

At least nine U.S. states have enacted statutes regarding the use of granny cameras. Approximately fifteen other states have proposed statutes or regulations but have not moved forward with implementation. The law is not consistent and sometimes does not even exist for many states. It is critical for a nursing home owner to know the status of the granny camera laws wherever they operate facilities, and to make the necessary adjustments to their staff and resident policies. In certain states, the nursing home is prohibited from banning the use of granny cameras, as long as the resident or family member adheres to certain guidelines.

For more, read Examining the Issues of Granny Cameras in SNFS.

Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink


Regulations should not micromanage people’s freedoms, especially in a nation like ours where individual freedom is central to our values. Some people value their privacy and would never want a camera in their homes. That wish should be respected. But as people age and become frail, they fear abandonment. Moreover, it’s easy to be abandoned and helpless for many hours even in an eldercare setting in which daily monitoring is a part of the provider product.

Hence, where people do have concerns – either about a loved one or about the staff who interact with a loved one – it seems perfectly acceptable to have monitoring equipment. In the world outside eldercare, surveillance cameras are now prevalent and they are very effective in reducing wrong doing and in holding people responsible to act appropriately. Even the police are now often equipped with body cameras.

Amazon’s Echo Show and Spot devices allow a “drop in” feature to be voluntarily activated with permission that allows people to drop in to check on a loved one from a distance. If family were to go physically to the facility to check on their loved one, there would be little question of the propriety of their seeing how their loved one is faring and how staff was meeting the loved one’s needs.

Voluntary cameras, including especially the advanced capabilities of the Amazon devices should not only not be regulated, beyond requiring mutual consent, it should be encouraged.

Posted by: Jack Cumming | Aug 2, 2018 7:14:00 AM

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